If You Enter My Giveaways, Please Read This Post

You’ve probably noticed how few giveaways there have been here since the first of the year, and I want to explain what’s been going on.  First, I want to point out that at the end of every giveaway post, I have this:

I’ll choose the winner using the “And the Winner Is” plugin on (date), announce them by editing the post, and email the winner for their mailing address. Shipping will be handled by the sponsor. Thanks for entering and good luck everybody!

I do not ship out giveaway prizes. EVER. When a giveaway ends, I email the winner or winners asking for their mailing address and a daytime phone number for package tracking. When I get the reply, I copy/paste that information into a new email addressed to the PR person who contacted me about hosting the giveaway. At that point, I am finished with my side of the giveaway.

Giveaway prizes can come from a variety of places based on what PR people have told me – sometimes they have the prize in their office and can ship it right out themselves. However, sometimes the prizes are going to come from a warehouse. Depending on what the prize is, it can easily take as long as SIX WEEKS for giveaway winners to get their prizes.

I don’t mind emails asking me to check on the shipping of a prize, I really don’t. I email the PR rep using the last address they emailed me from, ask if they could please email me back and let me know the status of the prize, and if I get a reply, I let the giveaway winner know what to expect. It should be just that easy.

Sometimes it’s not. Over the last few months, I have had PR people seem to vanish into thin air right after asking me to host their giveaway. I have had emails bounce back as undeliverable, I’ve left messages on voicemails that were never returned, I’ve tried tweeting the companies who make the prizes asking for their help, I’ve complained on Facebook.

I have bought giveaway winners replacement prizes out of my own pocket when their emails got ugly. I have sent giveaway winners products that were sent to me for review that I had wanted to keep, but instead mailed to the winners just so they would have something “like I promised”. I have gotten emails that made me close to tears, suggesting that I am dishonest and purposely deceiving people just so they will enter my giveaways. Seriously.

So here’s the thing, my wonderful readers – I like doing giveaways. Yes, I like the increased traffic and subscribers I get from them, but I also just plain like knowing that someone is going to win a prize just because of me. But because of the stress of it, I have stopped doing them until I can figure out a better way to handle the shipping situation. I don’t like emailing the contact person over and over and getting no reply. I don’t like winners who are disappointed, and I certainly don’t like angry emails from winners accusing me of dishonest practices. But, I also don’t want to pay out of my own pocket to ship the prizes, either.

If you win a giveaway from me, please know that I agreed to do the giveaway because I believed the contact person when they said they would handle shipping out the prize. I am not “keeping your prize for myself”. I don’t have an assistant or a staff or anyone else but me to spend time sending out email after email after email trying to get you your prize. I absolutely do everything I can within my power, because I care. That’s pretty much everything I wanted to say on this topic, except that if you had to spend your time sending me email after email trying to GET your prize, I’m sorry. I really am. Thanks for reading this. Comments are welcome.

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  1. I’ve had this problem lately too. Communication simply ceases on the rep’s end. I’ve actually had a close call setting up a giveaway with a rep, sent an email to follow up on the status only to have an automated message come back saying they were no longer working at the company. Yikes! It’s gotten too complicated.
    Mrs. Cox´s last [type] ..Linen Closet Challenge

  2. This seems to be happening more frequently lately (at least to me). I’ve gotten very leary of working with PR folks who I don’t have a history with for exactly this reason.
    Wisconsin Mommy´s last [type] ..Save Money this Valentines Day

  3. I won one of your giveaways and never got my prize. I hope I wasn’t mean. No, I know I wasn’t mean, because I understand it’s not your fault. It is frustrating, and I can see why you’d just want to stop.

    I haven’t hosted all that many giveaways, and even I’ve had winners contact me because they didn’t receive their prizes. Thankfully it was just a matter of a missed email and was quickly fixed. This does make me think twice about agreeing to host giveaways.
    Anna´s last [type] ..Super Granny

  4. wow i am happy that you put all of this out here for people to see. hopefully it will let people know that this is not your fault, and bring to accountability those that are at fault. it’s terrible to think that someone would accuse you of being dishonest about things, esp since i have “known” you for this while… your integrity is impeccable. i really hope that people understand that and give you more grace when these things happen!

  5. Deb Anderson says:

    you’re not alone. This happens quite often, in fact. Luckily it hasn’t happened to me yet, but there have been a couple of times I’ve had to remind sponsors to send out the prize they promised. They are always gracious and apologetic – things do slip through the cracks sometimes. It happens.

    Personally, I have won a number of things that I never received. I keep those emails just to remind myself that it’s nice to get a prize you won but it’s always possible that you may never get it. And it certainly isn’t the blogger’s fault. Unless…

    …unless that blogger was actually sent TWO items, one to review and one to give away. In that case, then yes, the blogger is responsible for prize fulfillment. I never agree to do that on my blog. Not even postage. I figure I’m giving the sponsor more than their money’s worth with my time and energy, the least they can do is handle prize fulfillment.

    But in one instance I remember the blogger clearly stated that she received six of an item and was giving away five of them. I was one of the five winners. I never received it. Eventually I contacted the sponsor because none of my emails were being answered. The sponsor, I assume after investigating a bit, did fulfill the promised item (at least to me – don’t know about the other four winners) but I actually felt bad contacting the sponsor since they had acted in good faith by providing the items in advance to the blogger.

    I’ve often thought we need a place to report these kinds of things. People should be made aware when they enter giveaways featuring certain sponsors’ products or with certain bloggers that there is a possibility they may never see prize fulfillment if they win.

  6. I fully understand that it is not the blogs fault… You people act only as go-betweens for some great products. ANYONE who doesn’t understand that… well…
    YES, I’ve had more than 1 win never show up…
    Yes… contact the hosting blog, but realize it is not very often them who is responsible…
    Yes, sometimes contacting the middle-person gets results… sometimes it doesn’t
    Remember… being nice is important, even when filing a complaint
    Remember… blogs are not the only entry sites that notify a winner of a prize that never shows…
    Patience and sweetness go a bit further than bitterness and insults!
    …and, yes… I still go to those blogs that I did not ever get the prize… but, in a few cases, a great-sounding product I was promised and then ignored by PR left such a bad impression that I now refuse to enter elsewhere even though I loved the prize… I never even browse through a catalog they pay to mail me… you get the point…
    PR dropping the ball is NOT the middleman’s fault… save your frustration for the people who ARE responsible…
    *end of rant ?*

  7. As blog outreach aka blogger outreach from PR companies and companies continues to grow this is bound to become an even larger problem. There are many who are willing to promise the moon to get what they want and then disappear leaving the blogger holding the (empty) bag.

    Groups of bloggers could get together and find a place to post warnings about companies and PR people who do this to warn others. It won’t be long before you’ll know who to avoid. If you’re sure where the fault lies and have confirmed it is intentional and not a “falling through the cracks” issue, make these issues public to warn others who are not part of your circles.
    Gail Gardner´s last [type] ..Yahoo Stores Expert Rob Snell 10-354-767 Sales Increase

  8. Actually this is my first visit of your site, you are doing really very good job and this is a really good site…
    I like your Ideas and good to find this….
    I will surely actively participate in your site…

  9. Interesting…..I seem to hear more and more about people not receiving their prizes yet this has never happened to me. On the the flip side, I have won from quite a few blogs and I am always amazed at how quickly the wins are fulfilled. I have received many within days of winning.

    As for the people who get nasty, I say ignore them. As long as you know you have done the right thing then you are not responsible for paying out of your own pocket. You will never please everyone and they need to realize that you are not at fault and move on.

    Keep up the good work!

  10. Julie Nusbaum says:

    It would make no sense to intentionally stiff someone. If you were planning to ‘cheat’ anyone, why contact a ‘winner’ in the first place? Seriously. People need to think things through sometimes.

    When you contact your winners, you should include a release that states that the winner understands that you are not in possession of the prize and that fulfillment will be from the sponsor. If you have permission to pass along some contact method, so much the better.

  11. I’ve had this happen to me several times as well. I’ve had prize winners email me repeatedly several times a day and even swear at me because they don’t have their prize yet. It really is rather frustrating.
    Ellen Christian´s last [type] ..Dos and Donts of dinner table etiquette KraftHomestyle

  12. On the other end of the spectrum, I firmly believe that there are winners who claim they never receive the prize and write saying they didn’t receive it as if looking for a second freebie. If the prize wasn’t shipped with a tracking number, then there’s no proof they ever received it. Happens to eBay sellers all the time from buyers. Claim of an item never received. So there’s shady reps as well as shady winners. Takes all kinds to make the world go round.
    Cindi @ Moomettes Magnificents´s last [type] ..Tutorial- How to Create a Media Kit for Your Blog Yourself For Free

  13. Thank you so much for your post on this subject. I look at it from the other side, as I love to read and enter blog giveaways in the evening. It’s a stress reliever after a long day of self employment. I’ve met amazing bloggers and so many new friends through the world of blogs. I have also won some fantastic prizes.

    That said, there is an increasing problem with wins not being received. There is a very small percentage when it is the blogger themselves that say they have the prize, but then never ship it. Very small. It is usually coming from a PR Firm, and since I have only hosted a few giveaways (through My Blogspark and they always deliver), I”m not sure who these “PR Firm” people are, but something really needs to be done about their integrity.

    It is not fair that you bloggers spend all the time and energy promoting a product, and then people like me come along and spend our time and energy promoting the product as well, and then POOF! It all falls apart because of the dreaded “I never got my prize” scenario.

    I’m dealing with this right now for several wins, and it’s frustrating. One I have given up on, another the prize was suppose to have been shipped at least 4 times, and another the blogger gave me the PR Rep’s email because I felt bad about bugging her, and the PR Rep won’t reply. Just know that those of us that enter know that it’s not your fault, and we appreciate all that you do to get our prizes delivered. Oops! I’m totally rambling! Don’t mind me, I haven’t had enough coffee yet!
    sewmuchstuff at ymail dot com

  14. when I saw this post in my email subscriptions, it really made me take a step back. I was one of those people that would occasionally emailing the blog host, about once a month, reminding them I have not received the prize. I would just assume they didnt get the email, or missed it somehow, because they never replied back. lol. Yes it is definitely not the blogger’s fault, it seems like lots of these reps just pretend to have something to giveaway for advertisements.
    Eve´s last [type] ..Ihop @ Energizer Bunny’s Mommy Reports


  1. Gail Gardner says:

    On the challenges of running #giveaways @MomReviews What happens if the PR person "disappears"? http://su.pr/1gkJYb @momof3boys3702

  2. Mary Bertsch says:

    RT @MomReviews: If You Enter My Giveaways, Please Read This Post http://bit.ly/fJFowT

  3. Erica says:

    RT @MomReviews: If You Enter My Giveaways, Please Read This Post http://bit.ly/fJFowT